William Herrington
Greene County Sheriff's Office
July 18, 2017 05:42 PM

A former Missouri high school teacher has been sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing a 16-year-old female student in the closet of the school library and in his home, PEOPLE confirms.

William Nathan Herrington was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to statutory sodomy and sexual contact with a student, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

The former teacher was arrested in October 2014 after he was accused of pursuing a sexual relationship with a female student through social media, handwritten notes and emails.

On Friday, the victim, now in college, appeared in court to face her abuser. She shared with the court how the abuse turned her life upside down, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

The paper reports that the victim tearfully said she “didn’t feel safe walking the halls” and that her friends began to shun her, calling her a “slut” and “homewrecker.”

“Mr. Herrington, you should have never done what you did to me,” she said, according to the News Leader.

Greene County Judge Tom Mountjoy acknowledged the victim’s presence in the courtroom by saying, “The pain is palpable and everyone can feel it.” He added, “The pain of what has happened and the pain of what could happen.”

According to the documents, Ash Grove School District officials were notified of Herrington’s actions when the victim’s parents located several emails between the teen and teacher. The messages “indicated that sexual contact had occurred” between Herrington and the victim.

At the time of the incident, the victim was 16-years-old, the documents state. The abuse began when Herrington followed the victim on Twitter on October 1, 2014, and began sending her messages of a sexual nature, the teen told authorities.

“[He] wouldn’t stop sending messages,” the documents state. “Herrington made her feel guilty, and she would go along with it because she was terrified and scared of how he would react if she didn’t.”

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Herrington’s advances became physical, the victim told investigators, when he began to touch her on the buttocks whenever she left his classroom. Eventually, Herrington began sending the victim messages that said “closet time” to get her to join him in the school library’s storage closet.

Once inside, Herrington would sexually abuse the victim. These episodes in the closet occurred at least 10 times over a two-week period, the victim said.

On Oct. 9, the victim went over to Herrington’s house, where he forced her on the couch and abused her.

The victim told police she was once again too scared to say anything and that she was “putty in his hands.”

Afterwards, Herrington sent the teen messages asking if her parents monitored her phone. He said he could go to jail for having a sexual relationship with her, acknowledging that she was underage.

During the sentencing, Herrington apologized for his actions, the News Leader reports. .

“I know that nothing I can say can take away the pain I’ve caused and I am sorry,” he said through tears.

Prosecution and Herrington’s attorney Teresa Grantham could not be reached for comment.

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